Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS6Ku-GZMIw

Running DOOM On £30 eBay Office Furniture

Introduction

I bought this weird desk PC from a community centre that was about to be demolished. So lets explore it and see what it’s all about, and do what any sensible retro gaming fan would - run DOOM on it.

Script

It recently occurred to me that I’ve spent the past three decades playing Doom - and I’m not exaggerating there, it has literally been 30 years - because our very first PC was a 486 DX2/66 with 4MB of RAM that we got for Christmas in 1994, and I spent the entirety of that Christmas season as a 10 year old playing through the shareware episode of Doom over and over again - and this is indeed our original copy that I played as a kid.

Of course, in the intervening years, Doom’s become a bit of a meme, and it’s become a bit of a trend to run it on all sorts of weird and wonderful devices: stuff like ATMs, household appliances, medical equipment, LEGO bricks, and even - I saw quite recently - a pregnancy test. But there’s one thing that I’ve not seen Doom run on yet.

And that is office furniture.

And so, dear viewer, I found myself driving up the M6 at nine o’clock on a Thursday morning. And, well, I say driving - I’m actually currently doing about 5MPH, which is the fastest I’ve been in a few minutes, because it’s the M6. I’m just outside Birmingham near Junction 4.

It turns out this place is actually about an hour from my house, which is very convenient. It’s an old community centre in, uh, a place called Bilsden that apparently is being demolished in the next few days, and if I don’t go and rescue this thing now it’s basically going to be demolished along with the community centre, so yeah, quite an interesting story!

I’m off to meet a guy called Darren - and hopefully this traffic situation sorts itself out and he’s still there when I finally arrive!

So I finally made it to the community centre and Darren was absolutely lovely as expected - even though I was half an hour late. I didn’t want to hold him up any longer by setting up cameras to record all the loading and stuff, but yeah, it’s all in the car. We had a bit of an issue because the monitor’s actually attached to the desk and it didn’t quite fit through the opening in the back, so I’m not quite sure how I’m going to get it all out but that’s my problem for later.

This is the community centre - it’s part of the local medical centre and it is being demolished in the next few days, so sounds like I got here just in the nick of time!

Thankfully the drive home was far less hassle, although the weather did turn to torrential rain and of course I had to unload it on my own, which was a bit of a pain, but I managed to get all of the bits into the studio and managed to get the legs back onto the desk and get everything sorted and laid out in some kind of order so I could finally check out what it was that I purchased.

So before we get to the main event - so to speak - let’s take a look at the table of tat, or the random bits and bobs that came with the desk PC. First up - as you can see - is this lovely compact CRT monitor and this is actually quite nice - it’s in quite good condition. I think it’s about 14” and it’s really lightweight and if it works it will actually be quite useful for the channel for demoing old PCs and stuff. I don’t actually have a white CRT monitor of this vintage - I’ve got a black one, but not a white one. So actually that’d be quite useful for using with some of my old PCs and stuff - so definitely a win there.

Slightly less of a win is the fax machine - I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with a fax machine! I don’t even have a phone line here in the studio, but hey, it was sold as a job lot and I didn’t want to be awkward and leave any of it behind, so I took the fax machine.

Maybe I can put it on display at the back of the studio or something?

There’s also this Lexmark all in one printer - uh - printer scanner copier thing, and I remember actually having one of these back in my college days, and it being a pretty terrible printer all round - and this one hasn’t been used for at least four years so I’m not expecting great things from it, but hey, it was free. It came as part of the package and if nothing else, I guess the scanner might be vaguely useful at some point.

But, of course, this is the reason we’re all here, and this is the Desk PC. So let’s take a look at the actual PC itself, which is well and truly built into the desk.

So this is TIME branded, and TIME were a British PC manufacturer, they had their own high street shops and stuff in the 90s, and apparently they were still around as late as 2005, from what I’ve just discovered.

It looks like this has got a floppy drive of course, and a 52X CD-ROM drive.

I think these are LEDs here and I think that’s the power switch next to those - and rounding that out, we also have these lovely two USB ports on the front, which should be quite handy. So that’s the actual PC part.

It turns out that the speakers are TIME branded as well, so I guess they’re original and actually came with this thing.

As is the mouse - and this has got a scroll wheel built in, but it is indeed a ball mouse. So perhaps that’s some indication as to the exact vintage of this machine.

So moving on to the monitor…

This is actually screwed to the desk with a couple of wood screws - I found them in a panel at the back and I haven’t taken them out yet.

And it’s actually sitting at a really weird angle now - I think that we must have bent the screws either getting it into or out of the car or maybe in transit, but that’s easy enough, I can unscrew those so that’s really not a problem, and this is CTX branded.

From what I gather I think CTX is actually a fairly decent brand, or at least they certainly were for CRTs.

So you never know, that might actually be a fairly decent monitor there.

It’s also got this keyboard, which you would expect to be branded with the TIME logo like the other stuff, but it isn’t, so that’s probably been replaced at some point. It’s your typical 90s squishy keyboard, but I did spot that it is Keytronic branded, and Keytronic were actually fairly decent as far as the cheaper brands went back in the day, so that’s also quite promising.

Some actually fairly decent quality stuff here - and of course, rounding out all of that is this lovely Zoom USB modem, and this is a V.92 modem which I believe is 56K, so again, something that probably dates this machine.

But there’s a slight problem - and that comes in the form of this barrel lock here which is locked and I don’t have the keys for that and I didn’t spot that when I picked it up and if I had I would have asked for the keys, but to be honest I think if he had them he probably more than likely would have given them to me - so I guess that’s an indication that the keys were lost a long time ago.

So yeah, this is the panel that kind of hides all the wiring and stuff and there’s no way to remove that at the moment, so I need to work out how to deal with that lock.

The same goes for underneath - there are two key locks under here, one either side of the actual PC unit itself and I guess they need to be unlocked to actually slide the PC itself out which means I’m not going to be able to examine this thing and see what kind of condition it’s in before I fire it up for the first time.

But I have to say I am very tempted to just plug this thing in and see what happens because - well - what’s the worst that could happen?

So, being the serious computing professional that I am, I’ve put a lot of thought and a lot of deliberation into this.

Yeah, I considered it for all of about ten seconds and I’ve decided I’m gonna fire it up. I’ve plugged it in, nothing’s gone bang so far, but I haven’t turned anything on yet.

So I guess we’ll start with the monitor…

Okay, that’s very promising - okay, still sitting at this jaunty angle.

I also found a random power supply which seemed to match the specs for the speakers, so I’ve got that plugged in.

Okay, no lights or anything to indicate that they’re on, but it did make a noise so that’s quite promising.

If I’m correct, I think this might be the power button - so fingers crossed everyone!

Oh my god!

So it’s an AMD Duron 1100 - it’s got a gig of RAM.

There was some speculation as to the specs of this thing on my Discord server and we were hoping it would be something really terrible like a VIA C3 or a Cyrix or something and it’s an AMD Duron so that’s a great start.

So have we got an OS on here..?

We’ve got Windows 2000 - Windows 2000 Professional. It looks like it’s booting up…

There’s a very loud fan in there - I’m not quite sure if that’s the power supply or the CPU fan…

…and the CD drive is making a really horrible clicking noise - I’m not sure if the microphone’s picking that up.

Oh, and it stopped. Okay, well, that’s an improvement. Uh, I guess I should check if there’s a CD in there?

What!?

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Sinfonia number 41, Jupiter.

Sinfonia number 29, M la ma mar- whatever that says.

Classic Masters: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

So evidently a person of culture has been using this PC. That’s quite a random find, isn’t it? I’ll have to see if I can play that.

Let’s see if we can get to a login screen.

Will it log in automatically? I guess it might ask me for a password.

So, apparently the last person to use this PC was called Jean - the username is “jean”, all in lowercase. Obviously no idea what the password might be, there’s no Post-it notes or anything around. Evidently Jean was a Mozart fan as well, that’s so cool.

I mean, it’s all working, how cool is that?

Not much use if I can’t get past the password prompt, and of course I can’t get in there to change the hard drive either, so I’m going to have to have a think about what I’m going to do with this, but it works!

The desk PC works! How cool is that? That is so cool.

Now I was hoping this would be a comically bad spec just to add to the madness of it all and I must admit I don’t know much about these AMD Durons. I remember them from back in the day but never owned one and didn’t really know much about them so I thought I’d look it up on cpu-world.com and yes - AMD Duron 1100 - 1.1GHz of course, and that was released October 2001, of course it’s 32-bit single core CPU which was pretty much par for the course back in the day.

It runs on a 200MHz bus with an 11x multiplier.

It’s got 64k of level 1 cache and 64k of level 2 cache - so I think this is going to fit the bill.

Haha! Now we’re in business!

So, I discovered a fundamental flaw with the security of the desk PC, and that’s the fact that the top is just held on with these completely bog standard off the shelf Phillips screws - quite a lot of them, but yeah - I’ve just been around the outside of the thing and just unscrewed the desk top, and that gives me access to the back of the key locks. So we’ve got the two key locks here that hold the actual PC in place - the PC of course being inside this nice solid metal box - and the other one just there for the cable tidy thing.

So I’ll be able to get those key locks out completely, which is fantastic, and I’ll just leave those out for now.

But I also spotted this really interesting power distribution setup here.

So these are just IEC cables, as you would expect with any standard PC. But yeah, there’s this distribution block here.

So we’ve got the cable coming in from the mains plug. Only one of these was plugged in - not quite sure what the other side is for - I guess you could optionally have something else in here - I’m not quite sure what - and it’s even got the power supply here for the monitor Which just plugs straight into one of those and it’s actually quite a nice tidy solution.

The PC itself, that’s just a normal mains IEC socket in there, so evidently there is a separate power supply inside the PC itself.

…and here it is, a quality Gigabyte branded Micro ATX motherboard. I think it’s Micro ATX, it’s got the three PCI slots and the AGP slot. We’ve got a Realtek networking chip there, it’s a VIA chipset, and it looks like the model of the motherboard is GA-7VKMP - and we’ve got that Duron CPU there with a nice low profile fan, and we’ve got one stick of RAM in there.

Looks like it could be upgraded with a second one, which is really cool. Of course these slots are not usable at all with the standard case on there - there’s no back slots or anything like that - that isn’t really the point of this machine. And of course, quite an old school affair with the game port and the integrated sound and it’s even got a parallel port and PS/2 ports and serial ports on there as well as you might expect from a PC of this era.

So all very cool to see.

All completely off the shelf standard components as well of course.

We’ve got this LG CD drive which was making that horrible clicking noise and this should be familiar to anyone who’s taken apart a PC of this era - this lovely Seagate hard drive with the lovely rubbery coating on it - I think these were pretty ubiquitous back in the day, I certainly remember building a few PCs with those.

And the power supply - I think this is a FlexATX power supply, I think they’re called? So this is, this is a standard PSU as well.

So this could all be rebuilt or upgraded or I could do something interesting with it but to be honest, I quite like the awfulness of it as it is.

Now, I must admit, I have already had a look around this and there was something interesting on the bottom that I wanted to show you as well - so let’s have a look at that.

Obviously the first thing is the Windows 2000 Professional OEM License sticker there - I think that’s just a requirement from Microsoft that that has to be stuck on the system somewhere so not really surprising but still quite funny to see it just buried inside a desk on a random metal box I guess.

But the most interesting part is this part number here - so apparently this is a TIME ICEDESK, and this is something that I couldn’t find any information on this system at all in my searches, but hopefully that will help me to dig up some information on maybe different specs and configurations and target markets for this thing.

And also of course now we’ve got it stripped down this far, I can get that original hard drive out - I do want to put that somewhere safe and take a look at it at a later date, maybe see if I can crack Jean’s password and see if there’s anything interesting on there. But for the purposes of this video - which of course is to get Doom running on a desk - I can now put my own hard drive in there, get my own environment set up on there and hopefully get this thing back together and we’ll be up and Dooming in no time.

It’s now day two - not that you would know that because I washed and dried this t-shirt last night all in the name of continuity - that’s my commitment to quality on this channel, and I have been a very busy boy today: as you can see, this thing is all back together, I’ve been cleaning it thoroughly inside and out with some IPA and some wipes, which I didn’t record because it’s not very interesting, but it is looking absolutely fantastic - I’m really pleased with how it’s all cleaned up.

On the subject of the hard drive, I actually took that out and swapped it for a CompactFlash to IDE adapter, so I’ve got a CompactFlash card in here now, and I’ve plugged the original drive into another PC that I have here in the office using a USB to IDE adapter, and I actually managed to get in there and take a look at some of the files, and it’s quite interesting because it seems the Windows 2000 OS was first installed in 2002, which kind of lines up with all of the other dates like the manufacturing date of the CPU and everything else so I think that’s the original install and it looks like this was last used in 2004.

Now I can’t actually show you any of those files because obviously there’s personal information and stuff like that, but they’re all just basic admin stuff to do with running a community center - I mean, there’s minutes from meetings and HR stuff and that kind of thing so absolutely nothing interesting whatsoever but I guess it’s interesting to see the original files on there and no fun stuff whatsoever - it seems like this was all business - apart from that Mozart cd, of course.

So, my quest to get Doom running… Well, I’ve been very busy on that today and I have been recording bits and bobs of it, and that started off with installing MS-DOS 6.22 from my original install floppies - and these apparently date from 1994, so these are 30 years old - and all three floppies worked perfectly fine, installed DOS 6.22 no problems whatsoever on this hardware, and that’s all up and running on the Compact Flash card.

Then of course it was time to install Doom itself and I decided that what I wanted to do was install the original shareware version - this is my actual shareware version from back in the day on our very first PC in 1994 in fact. So I put the discs in and ran through the installer and again, this all installed fine, and it actually runs fine on this system. But it was then that I ran into a bit of a problem - and that’s because the sound card in this is basically just an AC97 audio chip, and there are no DOS drivers for the sound.

Now, Doom runs perfectly fine, and I can actually play it with the PC speaker audio, which is always entertaining.

But I don’t think that provides the full Doom experience - so I’m now in the process of installing Windows 98 on here, which I’m installing from the .CAB files I got from WinWorld on the internet and it’s basically on that same Compact Flash card so it’s a DOS 6.22 FAT16 formatted Compact Flash card. It’s going to be an absolutely awful setup and it’s taking forever to install and I hope Windows 98 is OK with the spec of this machine - obviously, it’s got quite a fast CPU and it’s got 1GB of RAM but I think it’s going to run fine - I’ve got all the drivers from the motherboard manufacturer’s website and stuff as well.

So I’m going to continue installing Windows 98 and then hopefully, finally, we can get Doom working with sound and everything.

And so, I suppose the question on everyone’s lips is: did Windows 98 solve the problem? Did I finally manage to get everything up and running, get those drivers installed, and get Doom running with audio?

Well, I won’t keep you waiting any longer - the answer to that question, I’m very pleased to report, is…

A resounding yes, of course!

I mean, the title of the video was probably somewhat of a giveaway, but yeah, Doom is up and running in Windows 98, I’ve got all the sound working, I’ve got the music sounding fantastic through those cheesy Windows 98 general MIDI drivers, and yes, this is it, Doom running on a desk.

I did run into one other small issue, of course, and that is that, unfortunately, that original shareware version of Doom that I had way back in the day was actually a very early build of the game, and it’s known not to work in Windows 98 - it throws an error, and there’s no fix for that other than upgrading to a newer version of Doom so this is the full Ultimate Doom release, but hey, it still counts - it’s still Doom running on a piece of office furniture!

As for longer term plans for the desk - I must admit I think this thing’s actually going to be really useful just to have around the studio, and I’ll probably find a permanent spot for it and just keep it plugged in and ready to boot up at a moment’s notice because it’ll be really useful for use as a bridge system for copying files to and from other systems.

Obviously it’s got that floppy drive in there which is working great, and I’ll probably swap out the dodgy CD drive for a DVD or a CD burner so I can do optical media on it as well.

Of course it’s got USB so with the right mass storage drivers - which I’ve already got up and running in 98 - I can copy files using that really easily, and it’s got ethernet as well, so actually quite a useful system, although I must say, I think there’s only one operating system befitting of such a weird and wonderful PC, and I’m probably going to put Windows Millennium Edition on it - in fact I’ve actually started making moves in that direction already.

So thank you ever so much for joining me on this journey - I hope you’ve had as much fun watching it as I had putting it together - and of course, big thanks, as always, have to go out to my supporters on Ko-Fi, Patreon, and the YouTube channel membership page - without you it wouldn’t be possible for me to do silly things like drive an hour to go and pick up a desk for £30 let alone have a studio to put it in so thank you ever so much.

And of course, I will hopefully see you next time.

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